TIME faith

Pope Francis to Families: Get Off Your Screens and Actually Talk to Each Other

VATICAN-POPE-AUDIENCE
Pope Francis waves to faithful as he arrives for the private Audience to the Accountants and Accounting Experts in Aula Paolo VI at the Vatican, on November 14, 2014. Andreas Solaro—AFP/Getty Images

The Pontiff says technology should be used to enable conversation, not hinder it

Pope Francis wants families to know that technology isn’t everything it’s cracked up to be.

“By growing daily in our awareness of the vital importance of encountering others, we will employ technology wisely, rather than letting ourselves be dominated by it,” the Pontiff said Friday in his annual message for World Communications Day.

In other words, cut down on your screen time, kids.

Not that mothers and fathers aren’t beyond reproach: “Parents are the primary educators,” he said, “but they cannot be left to their own devices.”

“The media can be a hindrance if they become a way to avoid listening to others, to evade physical contact, to fill up every moment of silence and rest, so that we forget that ‘silence is an integral element of communication; in its absence, words rich in content cannot exist,'” Pope Francis said.

This isn’t the first time the Pope has implied those family-centric Apple ads might be misleading. “Maybe many young people waste too many hours on futile things,” like “chatting on the Internet or with smartphones,” he said last year.

Even in 1967, long before the dawn of the selfie, Pope Paul VI remarked upon the rapidly expanding world of communications, noting how television and other media leave “their deep mark upon the mentality and the conscience of man who is being pressed and almost overpowered by a multiplicity of contradictory appeals.”

It’s like they say in Proverbs 18:2: “A fool takes no pleasure in understanding, but only in expressing his opinion [on Twitter].”

TIME 2016 Election

Jindal Blurs the Lines With Prayer Rally This Weekend

Bobby Jindal
Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, R-La. speaks in New York on Oct. 16, 2014. John Minchillo—AP

It is no secret that Bobby Jindal is praying very seriously about a run for the White House. This weekend, his prayer will look a lot like a giant evangelical rally in Baton Rouge.

The governor of Louisiana is keynoting a six-hour worship gathering on Saturday called “The Response: A Call To Prayer For a Nation In Crisis” at Louisiana State University. The event, sponsored by the conservative and controversial American Family Association, aims to spiritually reawaken America in light of “unprecedented struggles” the country is facing: “financial debt, terrorism, and a multitude of natural disasters … fatherless homes, an epidemic of drugs and crime in our inner cities, a saturation of pornography in our homes, abortion, and racism.” The American Renewal Project, a non-profit spearheaded by conservative political operative David Lane that aims to get more Christians involved in politics, is also behind the event. Lane hopes to recruit 1,000 pastors to run for political office this campaign cycle. The Response coincides with the state’s Right to Life March, which is also happening Saturday on LSU’s campus and which Jindal is also keynoting. Together, the events are poised to draw thousands.

Organizers say the Response is purely about spiritual renewal, not politics. But from the get-go, those lines are blurred. Jindal invited 49 other governors to attend the Response. “This gathering will be apolitical in nature and open to all who would like to join us in humble posture before our Creator to intervene on behalf of our people and nation,” Jindal explained to the governors, in a letter obtained by the Christian Broadcasting Network. “There will only be one name lifted up that day–Jesus!”

The irony in the event has several layers. To begin, Jindal’s invitation to the governors, like most of the Response’s promotional materials, draws inspiration only from passages in the Hebrew Scriptures, what Christians call the Old Testament, to support an event aimed at lifting up Jesus Christ. His letter primarily cites the Hebrew prophet Joel, who likely lived in Judah during the Persian period of Jewish history (539-331 BC). Joel tells the Hebrew people to “declare a holy fast,” “call a solemn assembly,” and “summon the elders,” to “cry out to the Lord.” The Response organizers are trying to imitate those instructions with this event, but conflating Joel’s call to return to the Hebrew God with a contemporary evangelical call to return to Jesus changes the prophet’s original context and the significance of the words for today’s Jewish community.

Next, for the Hebrew prophet Joel, to call the elders is actually a political move, not just a spiritual one. The prophet goes on to lament a plague of locusts, that like an invading army that has destroyed his own nation’s fields and farming prospects. His call to God for aid is a political plea on behalf of his people. Jindal and fellow organizers are using a political Bible passage to promote an event that they say has a solely spiritual ambition. And yet, even as Jindal says the event is apolitical, he wrote an open invitation to the event on official state letterhead, and hosted 72 organizers for the event at the Governor’s mansion in December.

Perhaps most importantly, the Response in the United States is becoming more than a spiritual institution: It is a prelude to a presidential run. Five days after Rick Perry held a Response rally in August of 2011, he declared his candidacy for president. Neither Perry nor Jindal are evangelicals—Perry is a life-long Methodist and Jindal is Catholic—but for both, the Response event is a way to harness the spirituality of the conservative evangelical base for their own political ambitions. It is no small reward, either. Perry’s event drew some 30,000 people in Houston.

The Response may be the largest religious base Jindal is courting, but it is not the only one. After the Response, Jindal is headed to Naples to speak at the Legatus Summit, a annual conference for Catholic business leaders. Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York is speaking at the event, but Fox News’ Bret Baier and actor Gary Sinise withdrew their participation earlier this month due to controversy over the group’s opposition to gay marriage.

It is not surprising that Jindal would appeal to this conservative religious base. He is a Hindu convert and a Rhodes scholar biology major who supports creationism. He’s continually fought the courts and the Obama administration for his signature school voucher program that uses public dollars to pay for private and religious schooling. This week, he went after the U.S. House of Representatives for failing to pass an anti-abortion measure on the eve of the national March for Life. “It shouldn’t take a lot of political courage to stand up and say we are going to end late-term abortions in America,” Jindal told Fox News Thursday night.

Jindal has also been hammering radical Islam. During a 10-day economic and foreign policy trip to Europe, Jindal blasted so-called “no-go” zones, supposed communities in Europe where non-Muslims are not allowed and where sharia law runs rampant. Fox News later issued an apology for promoting the term, clarifying that no such zones exist. Jindal didn’t slow down. “Radical Islamists do not believe in freedom or common decency nor are they willing to accommodate them in any way and anywhere,” he said in a speech to the Henry Jackson Society in London. “We are fools to pretend otherwise. How many Muslims in this world agree with these radicals? I have no idea, I hope it is a small minority.” He added: “Let’s be honest here, Islam has a problem. If Islam does not support what is happening in the name of Islam, then they need to stand up and stop it.”

Jindal’s past history of blending of religious and political themes only makes it even more clear that the Response will not be strictly spiritual, despite what organizers say.

TIME faith

These Are the Most Godless Cities in America

Boston
Boston, Mass. Getty Images

Based on how much residents read the Bible

At the end of the age, according to Matthew, the angels will come and separate the wicked from the righteous. Well, they should have an easy time of it: The wicked are, roughly speaking, already somewhere north of St. Louis.

That’s where the least “Bible-minded” cities are in America, at least according to a study released Wednesday by the American Bible Society.

Cities in the Northeast appear to have strayed furthest from the upright path, with wicked dens of iniquity like Providence, R.I., New Bedford, Mass., Albany, N.Y., and Boston, Mass., leading the list for least Bible-minded. Also on the naughty list are San Francisco, Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and gambler’s haven Las Vegas.

The American Bible Society measures “Bible-mindedness” by how strictly survey respondents read the book and believe in its accuracy. A spokesperson told TIME last year that the study poses respondents the question, “How many times do you read the bible outside of church or a synagogue?”

The most Bible-minded respondents say they read the Bible in the last week and believe strongly that it is accurate. The top city for biblical stricture was Birmingham, Ala., followed by Chattanooga, Tenn. All the 10 most-Bible-minded cities are, naturally, somewhere in the Bible Belt.

The American Bible Society found that only 27% of Americans are Bible-minded.

The data was based up on telephone and online interviews with 62,896 adults over a 10-year period ending in August 2014.

Read next: How Evangelicals Are Changing Their Minds on Gay Marriage

TIME faith

Jindal: Muslims Form ‘No-Go Zones’ Outside Civic Control

But Jindal didn't clarify exactly which neighborhoods were "no-go" for non-Muslims

(WASHINGTON) — Some countries have allowed Muslims to establish autonomous neighborhoods in cities where they govern by a harsh version of Islamic law, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal said Monday during a speech in London.

The Republican, who is considering a presidential campaign in 2016, later defended — and repeated — the statement after facing reporters’ questions about his claims.

In a speech prepared for delivery at a British think tank, Jindal said some immigrants are seeking “to colonize Western countries, because setting up your own enclave and demanding recognition of a no-go zone are exactly that.” He also said Muslim leaders must condemn the people who commit terrorism in the name of faith as “murderers who are going to hell.”

Jindal aides said he did not make significant changes to the prepared text.

The claims on “no-go zones” are similar to those a Fox News guest made last week about places where non-Muslims were not welcome in parts of the United Kingdom such as Birmingham, and “Muslim religious police” enforce faith-based laws.

Steven Emerson, an American author who often is asked about terror networks, told Fox News that in Britain “there are actual cities like Birmingham that are totally Muslim, where non-Muslims just simply don’t go in.”

Prime Minister David Cameron responded by calling Emerson a “complete idiot.”

Emerson later apologized and said his comments “were totally in error.” Fox News also issued apologies for broadcasting the comments.

Jindal, however, used similar rhetoric during a speech, warning of “no-go zones” in London and other Western cities. Jindal’s remarks come in the wake of the massacre by Islamic extremists at a Paris magazine’s offices and subsequent attack on a kosher supermarket in the city. Three gunmen killed 17 people in the attacks.

“I knew that by speaking the truth we were going to make people upset,” Jindal told CNN during an interview from London.

“The huge issue, the big issue in non-assimilation is the fact that you have people that want to come to our country but not adopt our values, not adopt our language and in some cases want to set apart their own enclaves and hold onto their own values,” said Jindal. “I think that’s dangerous.”

Jindal’s parents immigrated to the United States from India. As a young man, Jindal converted from Hinduism to Catholicism.

Asked for evidence of “no-go zones,” Jindal pointed to a weekend article in The Daily Mail, a London tabloid, that said killings, sexual abuse of minors and female genital mutilation are believed to go unreported to local police in some areas. The article did not give specific religious groups or towns.

“The bigger point is that radical Islam is a threat to our way of life,” Jindal said. Asked if he regretted talking about “no-go zones,” Jindal replied: “Not at all.”

Jindal’s advisers see his comments on his trip abroad as much-needed truth-telling about the radical corners of Islam.

Such rhetoric may help his standing among evangelical pastors, who have sway over many voters in early nominating states in the presidential race such as Iowa and South Carolina.

Jindal is set to join pastors and their faithful from across the nation at Louisiana State University this weekend in a day of prayer.

Democrats said Jindal’s comments were a blunder.

“It’s no surprise that Bobby Jindal would go abroad and butcher the facts in an effort to divide people; this is exactly what we’ve come to expect from Jindal here at home,” said Democratic National Committee spokeswoman Rebecca Chalif. “Jindal is just embarrassing himself.”

Jindal, whose parents immigrated to the United States from India more than 40 years ago, is in his second term as governor of Louisiana and is barred by law from seeking a third term later this year. The 43-year-old is already laying the groundwork for a presidential bid.

Jindal spoke to the Henry Jackson Society, a British think tank named for a former U.S. Democratic senator from Washington state who was a presidential candidate in the 1970s.

TIME Ireland

Irish Minister for Health Announces He’s Gay

Irish Health minister Leo Varadkar, 36, who has publicly come out as gay, pictured here on Dec. 27, 2013.
Irish Health minister Leo Varadkar, 36, who has publicly come out as gay, pictured here on Dec. 27, 2013. Brian Lawless—Press Association/AP

The country is set to hold a referedum on marriage equality in May

Just months before Ireland is due to hold a referendum on marriage equality, the country’s minister for health has come out during a radio interview. Leo Varadkar told RTÉ Radio 1, an Irish radio station, that he was gay and would be campaigning in support of same-sex marriage in the lead up to the referendum in May.

“It’s not a secret — but not something that everyone would necessarily know, but it isn’t something I’ve spoken publicly about before,” he said during the Jan. 18 interview. “I just kind of want to be honest with people. I don’t want anyone to think that I have a hidden agenda.”

He added: “I’d like the referendum to pass because I’d like to be an equal citizen in my own country, the country in which I happen to be a member of Government, and at the moment I’m not.”

Ireland decriminalized homosexuality 22 years ago and same-sex couples have been able to enter a civil partnership since 2011, but not marry.

[RTÉ]

TIME Philippines

Pope Francis Opposes Contraceptives During Address of Millions in Philippines

Pope Francis waves from the popemobile after leading a Mass at Rizal Park in Manila
Pope Francis waves from the popemobile after leading a Mass at Rizal Park in Manila on Jan. 18, 2015. Erik De Castro—Reuters

It was the largest papal event ever

Pope Francis discussed population control and childcare Sunday before a crowd of millions in the Philippines capital of Manila, his final stop on a weeklong tour of Asia.

In longstanding tradition with the Catholic church, Pope Francis continued to urge families to oppose artificial contraception, the Wall Street Journal reported. The topic is particularly controversial in the Philippines, which is home to 80 million Catholics and recently expanded access to contraceptives in order to combat its high birthrate.

“The family all too often needs to be protected against insidious attacks and programs contrary to all that we hold true and sacred,” Pope Francis told the crowd. “We need to see each child as a gift to be welcomed, cherished and protected.”

City officials estimated about six million people attended the event, which would be a record-setting crowd, BBC reported. About five million people welcomed Pope John Paul II to Manila in 1995.

Earlier Sunday, Pope Francis had attended a meeting at Manila’s University of Santo Tomas, Asia’s only pontifical university, to hear testimonials from country’s thousands of impoverished young people.

“Many terrible things happened to (street children) like drugs and prostitution,” said a former street child named Jun Chura. “Why is God allowing such things to happen? And why are there only very few people helping us?”

In response, the Pope departed from his prepared remarks and spoke in his native Spanish for 40 minutes, asking, “Why do children suffer so much?”

[WSJ]

TIME faith

Duke’s Head of Divinity School Defends Decision to Halt Muslim Call to Prayer

Dean Richard B. Hays said he considered the original decision “ill-advised” in a letter to the Divinity School community

The Dean of Duke University’s Divinity School has defended the school’s decision to scrap plans for a weekly Muslim call to prayer from Duke Chapel’s bell tower.

The decision, announced earlier this week, was reversed Thursday afternoon after objections by some in the evangelical Christian community. In a letter to members of the Divinity School, Dean Richard B. Hays said he supported the school’s about-turn, noting that he considered the decision to allow a call to prayer—which he claimed was made without his knowledge—“ill-advised.”

“Any decision to permit the use of a prominent Christian place of worship as a minaret for Muslim proclamation will, in our time, have immediate global repercussions,” Hays wrote, saying the perspective of Christians of living in Islamic societies should have been taken into account.

He also took time to “lament the flood of angry and even threatening messages” the school has received since the announcement was first made, many of which are in full display on the University’s Facebook page. “Those of us who are Christians do no service to our faith or to God by forming hasty judgments or responding with hatred towards others,” Hays wrote.

Though the school’s approximately 700 Muslim students will continue to use the Chapel basement for worship, they will no longer be invited to sound the adhan from the bell tower before Friday afternoon jummah prayers.

The Chapel meant for the move to be taken as a symbol of religious pluralism and unity, but many did not see it that way, including noted Christian leader Rev. Franklin Graham, who said it was an effort to erase Christianity from the school.

Rev. Luke Powery, the Dean of Duke Chapel, dismissed those claims in an interview with NPR’s Here & Now. “We are obviously a Christian community,” Powery said. “There’s still a vibrant Christian presence on campus, even with our various campus ministries. But at the same time, we serve the whole entire Duke University community, which is very diverse, religiously, culturally, racially.”

TIME europe

How Islam Became the Fastest-Growing Religion in Europe

French colonialism and immigration policies across Europe helped fuel migration from the Muslim world

The religiously motivated terror attacks in France last week have exacerbated anti-Islamic sentiments across Europe, with a record 25,000 people joining anti-immigrant protests in Germany on Monday.

But even as polls show anti-Islamist sentiment rising, Islam is the fastest-growing religion in Europe. Nearly 5 million Muslims live in France, the largest Muslim population in Europe, and some 4 million live in Germany.

In the video above, TIME foreign correspondent Simon Shuster discusses how French colonialism and immigration policies throughout Europe helped fuel migration from the Muslim world.

TIME faith

The History of Jews in France in 6 Key Moments

ISRAEL-FRANCE-ATTACKS-CHARLIE-HEBDO-DEMO
A member of the French Jewish community holds a sign during a rally in Jerusalem on Jan. 11, 2015, to demonstrate Jerusalem's support for France and the Jewish community there. Gali Tibbon—AFP/Getty Images

Understand how history shaped the Jewish community in France, from the French Revolution to today

The deadly assault on a kosher supermarket in Paris on Friday confirmed the fears of many French Jews that anti-Semitism is a persistent and growing threat in France. Already, thousands of Jews have departed for Israel in the wake of 2012 shooting at a Jewish day school and an attack last year on the Jewish museum in Belgium.

The history of the Jewish community in France has, in some ways, been shaped by anti-Semitism—but it is also shaped by the type of support that coalesced around the Jewish community over the weekend. Prime Minister Manuel Valls declared that “France without Jews is not France” and an estimated 3.7 million people took to the streets in solidarity with the victims of last week’s violence.

The Jewish community in France “is not as isolated as we thought,” said French Chief Rabbi Haim Korsia after the march. “For months we have been asking where is France? Today we saw France, and the France we saw was a spitting image of biblical descriptions of Jerusalem, where brothers unite.”

To learn more about how the situation got the way it is for the Jewish population of France, TIME spoke with Maud S. Mandel, Dean of the College at Brown University and author of Muslims and Jews in France: History of a Conflict. Here’s a look at some of the key periods that have shaped the history of French Jews:

1. The French Revolution

Within two years of the Revolution, France became the first country in modern Europe to grant Jews equal rights under the law, setting a precedent for France and a new standard for Europe as a whole. At the time, there were only about 40,000 Jews in France, living primarily in the country’s eastern Alsace-Lorraine region, but the process of Jewish emancipation that largely began with the Revolution would have a lasting impact.

2. Napoleon and the Great Sanhedrin

Still, the question of if and how to integrate the Jewish community into French society—a problem known at the time as “the Jewish question”—persisted after the Revolution and the rise of Napoleon Bonaparte, who was named French Emperor in 1804. “The hope by enlightenment philosophes and revolutionaries that supported Jewish emancipation was that that Jews would integrate into the state like everybody else and that their differences would diminish,” says Mandel. “Napoleon believed that such change wasn’t happening quickly enough, that Jews weren’t fully blending into the surrounding populations.”

Proposing to put the question to the Jewish people, in 1806 Napoleon convened an assembly of important leaders in the Jewish community to clarify their political and religious loyalties. A year later, religious leaders gathered for what was called the Great Sanhedrin, named after the Jewish high court in ancient Israel, to ratify the declarations of the assembly. Through this process, Napoleon effectively asked whether the allegiances of French Jews lay in the Jewish community or in the larger society, says Mandel. “That was a big moment, the Sanhedrin, because it was during this moment of political theater when Jews declared themselves first and foremost French citizens, and that’s where their primary political allegiances were,” she says. “And after that, over a period that took decades, successive generations of Jews integrated more fully because now they were citizens.”

3. The Dreyfus Affair

The assumption that Jews had become an integral part of French society was rocked in the late 19th century. In 1894, Captain Alfred Dreyfus, who was Jewish, was convicted of spying for Germany, spawning a decade-long scandal. Dreyfus was eventually exonerated, but the period was marked by anti-Semitic riots and a vocal anti-Semitic press—as well as by equally vocal non-Jewish defenders of Dreyfus.

Jews in France interpreted the Dreyfus Affair in different ways, according to Mandel. For some, Dreyfus’s exoneration represented the triumph of French republican values over discrimination and xenophobia. “For many French Jews it was actually a sign that eventually the state would in fact side with justice and inclusion,” says Mandel. But for others, the scandal was proof that anti-Semitism was endemic to Europe. One of the people who felt that way was an Austro-Hungarian journalist reporting from Paris, Theodor Herzl—the man who would found the modern Zionist movement.

4. The Holocaust

The Second World War had a devastating impact on Jews in France, as it did on Jewish communities across Europe. Even before the war, the influx of Jewish refugees and immigrants from Germany and Eastern Europe had sparked an anti-Semitic backlash. (At the turn of the century, there were about 80,000 Jews in France; by 1939, there were about 300,000.) In the wake of the German invasion, the newly installed Vichy government willingly helped the Nazis round up Jews in France, particularly from recent immigrant communities. It was a stain on French history with tragic repercussions: by the end of the war, more than 70,000 Jews were deported from France, of whom only about 2,500 would survive.

On the other hand, the high number of Jews in France who did survive the war spoke to the public’s reluctance to participate in the Nazi deportation. “Of the Jews who survived, many, many of them owed their lives to French citizens who hid them, to officials who dragged their feet, to the very fact that they were French and they had all kinds of connections in French society that allowed them to avoid the worst outcome,” Mandel says. “That didn’t mean they didn’t lose property and suffer great losses and hardship over the period of World War II. I think that’s where you see the tension in the French story.”

5. Jewish Migration from North Africa

In the decades following the war, as France pulled out of Algeria, Tunisia and Morocco, large populations of Jews in those countries fled along with it. Many left for the newly established state of Israel, but others went to France. The migration north was most pronounced in Algeria, where the people already had French citizenship because of the special status of Algeria as a French colony; 90% of Jews in that country headed for France. The influx from North Africa doubled the Jewish population in France and introduced new customs to the increasingly diverse Jewish community. The North African Jews were also more willing than their predecessors in France to engage in politics along ethnic lines, coming out in force, for example, in support of Israel during the 1967 Six-Day War.

“Since that time, the Jewish community has been much more visible in support of Israel,” says Mandel. “It’s also been much more comfortable with expressing an ethnic politics within mainstream French political discourse.”

6. Jewish-Muslim Tensions

The arrival of Jews from North Africa coincided with a massive influx of Muslim migrant laborers, also largely from North Africa. While there were occasional clashes between these two immigrant populations, Jewish and Muslim immigrants often lived side-by-side in the early years, says Mandel. Beginning in the 1980s, however, tensions began to emerge, especially as the state failed to fully integrate the Muslim community into French society. “The difference was visible, and it caused resentment and interfered with their ability to work together because the needs of the two communities were so different,” says Mandel. Those tensions were only heightened by the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Still, Mandel distinguishes between those lingering tensions and the high profile attacks against Jews that have fueled fears of escalating anti-Semitism since the 2000s. Those, says Mandel, are linked to global Islamic terrorism. “I want to be really clear, that phenomenon does not run through and through France’s very diverse and large Muslim population,” she says. “It is one fringe element.”

Meanwhile, French Jews—the third largest Jewish population in the world after America and Israel—are more integrated into French society than ever before, says Mandel. “The tragic irony is that at the very moment at which we’re talking about the greatest spike in anti-Semitism in Europe since World War II,” she says, “is also a moment where we can underscore the ways in which prior former forms of anti-Semitism have significantly diminished.”

TIME Religion

Prominent Mormon Critic Says He Faces Excommunication From LDS

John Dehlin sits in his basement studio where he broadcasts his podcast at his home in North Logan, Utah on May 16, 2014.
John Dehlin sits in his basement studio where he broadcasts his podcast at his home in North Logan, Utah on May 16, 2014. John Zsiray—AP

John Dehlin claims he is likely to be censured or excommunicated by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints at a disciplinary hearing on Jan. 25

A prominent Mormon critic of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints says he is likely to be excommunicated for questioning the church’s teachings and for his support of same-sex marriage and ordaining women.

John Dehlin, the founder of the Mormon Stories Podcast, said in a post to his website that he is scheduled for a disciplinary hearing on January 25 and has been told that the likely outcome is an official censure or excommunication.

“While my family and I would prefer to be left alone by LDS church leadership at this time, I would much rather face excommunication than disavow my moral convictions,” he said in the post.

Eric Hawkins, a spokesperson for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, declined to confirm the reasons for Dehlin’s hearing.

“We respect the privacy of individuals, and don’t publicly discuss the reasons why a member faces Church discipline. Those reasons are provided to a member by their local Church leaders,” he said in the statement. “It’s my understanding that in this case the reasons have been clearly spelled out in letters to John Dehlin. In the interest of honesty and transparency, he may choose to make those letters public.”

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